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More science graduates needed for a sustainable environment
The increasing need for graduates in the sciences was emphasized at American University of Sharjah's (AUS) Environmental Day 2015, held today, April 23. Aimed to inform high school students about the careers they may pursue in the sciences as well as job market requirements, the event drew approximately 400 attendees from schools across the UAE.
The event, which coincided with Earth Day, promoted awareness of local, regional and global environmental issues and protection measures. Organized by the AUS Department of Biology, Chemistry and Environmental Sciences, the program also highlighted the university's bachelor of science degree programs in biology, chemistry and environmental sciences, under the theme of "Careers in Science: Building a Sustainable UAE."
Commenting on the event's theme with the UAE's vision in mind, Dr. Mahmoud Anabtawi, Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, said, "The main theme of Environmental Day 2015 is well-matched with the UAE's Vision 2021. The UAE's Vision 2021 document, which was released in 2010 by the UAE government, outlines the major future challenges the UAE faces. The document also provides initiatives, projects and legislation to address these future challenges; the Green Community is one of the key initiatives outlined in that document."
"This key initiative includes promoting the production and use of renewable energy, encouraging investments in green economy and facilitating the production, planning of green cities, maintaining biodiversity and the ecological balance in the UAE, regulating the use of water resources, electricity and natural resources. There is no doubt that these initiatives will create new jobs for environmental sciences graduates," he added.
Dr. Sandra Knuteson, Assistant Professor of Environmental Sciences at AUS and Chair of the Environmental Day Committee, said "There is a great need for science graduates to lead the UAE to a safe and sustainable future. The sciences have not generally been the focus for high school students entering the university system, but the positions for science graduates are out there in certified laboratories, both chemical and medical, pharmaceuticals, environmental, health and safety programs (HSE), consulting firms for environmental impact assessment, conservation and so many more," said.
She added that the university sees "the UAE recognizing its environmental impacts from industry and society and trying to mitigate them more than ever; therefore, we need to help them move towards sustainability by finding safe methods and technologies to reduce that impact."
The day's activities also included a keynote address by the Ada Natoli, Project Director of the UAE Dolphin Project, who explained the main biological characteristics of whale and dolphins and reviewed the information available about these species in the Gulf and UAE. A panel discussion on prospective careers in the field by industry professionals and AUS alumni followed. Professionals, members of the AUS community, and students from 15 high schools in the UAE attended the event, which also included an environmental quiz competition for schools in the afternoon.
"Earth Day is about raising awareness about the environment, but every day should be considered earth day. The day is about educating people about the importance of saving the earth and how we should preserve it for our future children. AUS is the only university that spares time to raise such issue, and I am enjoying the event very much," said Zoha Imitaz, a ninth grade student from Wesgreen International School.
Senior AUS officials, including Mohamed El Shahed, Director of Student Recruitment, also spoke on the occasion, welcoming the students and delegates, and thanking them for their participation.